Recently read: Dochuk’s “Anointed with Oil”

Darren Dochuk, Anointed with Oil: How Christianity and Crude Made Modern America (Basic Books, 2019). (Amazon; Bookshop)

Darren Dochuk‘s Anointed with Oil mixes together numerous strands of American history: the separation of “liberal” and “conservative” Christians; the rise of the gas and oil industry; the emergence of powerful, capitalism-advocating families like the Rockefellers; the motivation for American foreign interests, especially in the Middle East; and much more. If you are interested in American history broadly and/or American religious history, specifically, you’ll want to read this book. It’s so extensive, that it’s difficult to review in a succinct blog. What I’ll say is this: the oil industry has had more to do with the modern shape of the United States, and the United States’ within world affairs, than you could’ve imagined, and American Christians—liberal and conservative—were highly influential.

Dochuk’s work intersects everything from the origins of many of the energy giants you know—BP, Chevron, Exxon, Texaco, Shell—to how the pursuit of “black gold” was shaped by “wildcat” theology, premillennial dispensationalism, modern ecumenism and interfaith efforts, and more. In fact, one thing many American Christians shared for a few generations was the belief that oil was a gift of God, though there were detractors who observed of and warned of environmental devastation from the beginning.

Rather than write more about the book, let me recommend episode 56 of The Way of Improvement Leads Home podcast where Dochuk was interviewed John Fea. This was the interview that inspired me to buy and read the book. It’s one I highly recommend.


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